5 tips on designing a B2B website for increased sales
B2C companies such as Amazon know that their website is the primary way that they drive revenues. Because of this, they invest huge amounts of time and money optimizing their websites to maximize sales. However, many B2B companies don’t make this same level of investment – and that is a mistake. A B2B website is not just a cost of doing business – it is an absolutely critical component of a B2B company’s market presence. The audience may be different, but the same approach applies – a B2B website is often the first point of contact with a prospective client, and it needs to drive conversions in the same way that a B2C site does.
Tip #1: Understand your client
The first principle of setting up any B2B site is that you need to know your customers. Don’t just assume that you know what is important to them – go and ask them. Most B2B companies don’t do this, and end up talking past their customers as a result. In fact, recent research by McKinsey and Company has shown just how deeply disconnected B2B companies are from their customers. McKinsey selected 13 different brand themes, and then asked B2B companies to rank them in order of importance to their customers. They then asked customers to do the same thing. What they found was that the top five themes selected by B2B companies were actually the least important for their customers.
Tip #2: Understand the customers of your client
While understanding your customers is important for marketing and sales in general, it is absolutely critical for a B2B website. When you are dealing with a potential customer in person, you have the opportunity to see their reaction and adjust your approach accordingly. However, with a website, you don’t have this luxury – what you say on your website has to stand on its own. Furthermore, there is a good chance that this is the first time that the visitor has encountered your company, so you need to make sure that their first impression is positive.
Tip #3: Structured navigation for easy information retrieval
Once you have your messaging lined up, this is the time to start thinking about website design. Remember that B2B customers are consumers just like everyone else – they want to be able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily. The information you present needs to be centered around the user – they must be given simple, relevant choices that they recognize instantly. Many B2B companies make the mistake of drowning visitors in large amounts of product information upfront, rather than leading them to a point where detailed information is appropriate – if it is at all. This typically results in high bounce rates, whereas user-centric designs keep visitors on the site.
Tip #4: Capture leads
Just like a B2C website, the primary goal of a B2B website should be to drive conversions. In the case of a B2B site, this may take the form of lead generation rather than immediate sales, but the principle is the same – visitors need to be given the opportunity to say yes. A good B2B website should take visitors on a journey from being a reader to being a prospect. Navigation should be structured to lead visitors toward landing pages, and there need to be strong calls to action (CTAs) at every point along the route. Visitors also need to be given an incentive to sign up as a prospect – for example, free software trial offers or white papers can drive conversions effectively, as long as the site also provides useful information for free.
Once a lead is captured, it needs to be followed up. One good way of doing this is by forwarding it from the website to workflow automation software. This type of software can rank leads based on configurable criteria, and then distribute them to the right person or department for appropriate action. It can even be set up to deliver drip-feed marketing content to prospects, and to check that leads are being handled correctly. Using this type of system can dramatically increase the number of prospects that you convert into actual sales.
Tip #5: Applied SEO techniques
Finally, a B2B website is useless unless it has traffic. You need to develop a proper SEO strategy for your website, which must include both on-site and off-site optimization. Don’t try to do this in-house – instead, get a reputable SEO agency to do this for you. SEO is a complicated discipline that goes far beyond simple keyword selection, and unless you have prior experience, you are unlikely to get the results you want by doing the work yourself.